By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

A balanced budget was signed yesterday by the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors to cover the costs of county government operations for the coming year.

But theres a major catch.

The hoped-for and desperately needed $1.7 million bailout from the state has not come through yet.

A representative from the State Department of Finance is here looking for different solutions, said Del Norte County Auditor Christie Babich.

The money would not be a loan, but a gift from the state, and would be used for the services the state requires the county to perform, such as In-Home Support Services and Foster Care, according to Babich.

County officials have said there simply arent enough sources of income to the county to keep such state-mandated services going.

If the $1.7 million doesnt come through, the state will have to come run and fund the services themselves, according to Babich.

The boards solution is well close the doors to the county, she added, meaning the state Department of Finance will have to come open them.

Del Nortes cry for help is not new. Babich and former County Administrative Officer Ben Angove have said theyve been asking the state to come look at the books for several months.

If they can find some other ways to cut the budget or find revenue sources, then thats great. But the longer they wait, the longer it hurts us, she said.

The state officials here now are scrambling to color Del Nortes budget problems as unique. Achieving that would allow the state to give the money gift without facing extended hands from other, more fortunate counties.

Thats so other counties wont jump on the bandwagon, Babich said.

Information on the countys state of financial affairs is currently being sent to the states Legislative Analyst Office for review on ways to permanently fix Del Nortes money problems.

Babich said she hopes to hear from them very soon.